Uzbekistan - April 2023
Constitutional referendum to keep Mirziyoyev in power
A package of constitutional reforms passed with 90.21 per cent of the vote on 30 April, clearing the path for President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to stay in power through 2040. The constitutional overhaul includes a ban on forced labour, the right to free education and healthcare, and necessitating a court order for evicting citizens from their homes. Citizens and observers were quietly sceptical of the sincerity of the process, the seventh constitutional overhaul since 1992, as open dissent was not permitted and public employees were forced to take part in pro-reform rallies.
Domestic violence criminalized
After years of campaigning by women’s rights activists, Uzbekistan criminalized domestic violence on 6 April. Long an issue in patriarchal Uzbek society, the issue has risen to public prominence in recent years thanks to the efforts of public campaigners and the spread of videos of egregious acts of violence on social media. Uzbek activists and international human rights organizations celebrated the new laws, but also urged caution, given “deep-rooted misogynistic attitudes in Uzbek society.”